NEWS STORY: Black Baptist group to pick successor to jailed Lyons

c. 1999 Religion News Service UNDATED _ Five months after the resignation and imprisonment of the Rev. Henry J. Lyons, a slew of candidates are in the running to succeed him as president of the National Baptist Convention, USA. Eleven candidates remained in the running as of Wednesday (Aug. 25), ranging from well-known pastors and former and present convention officers, to a layman in the otherwise clergy-filled contest. More than 60,000 delegates and visitors are expected to attend the annual session of the prominent black denomination when it meets Sept.


c. 1999 Religion News Service Presidential candidates drawn into creationism vs. evolution debate (RNS) Vice President Al Gore has become the latest presidential hopeful to become caught up in the controversy over the teaching of evolution and creationism in public schools. Speaking through a spokesman, Gore said he thinks local school boards have the right to teach creationism, although he personally favored the teaching of evolution, Reuters news service reported Thursday (Aug. 26).

COMMENTARY: The nonsense of theological fads

c. 1999 Religion News Service (Andrew M. Greeley is a Roman Catholic priest, best-selling novelist and a sociologist at the University of Chicago National Opinion Research Center. Check out his home page at or contact him via e-mail at agreel(at) UNDATED _ Theologians always come to the latest intellectual fads a little late and a little breathless _ and enthusiastically convinced that the fad they have just discovered is the way the real world is. Thirty years ago they loudly embraced the”God-is-dead”fad. Now they eagerly proclaim that they are part of the”post-modernist”wave announced some years ago by French literary critics.

RNS News Digest

c. 1999 Religion News Service Reno pledges to investigate potential flammable devices at Waco (RNS) Attorney General Janet Reno vowed Thursday (Aug. 26) to”get to the bottom”of why it took the FBI six years to acknowledge that agents may have fired potentially flammable devices at the end of the 1993 standoff with the Branch Davidian sect.”It is absolutely critical that we do everything humanly possible to learn all the facts as accurately as possible and make them available to the Congress and public,”Reno said at a Justice Department news conference. The FBI has launched an internal investigation into recent acknowledgments about the standoff near Waco, Texas. Reno said she had”no reason at this point to believe the FBI is responsible for the deaths of those people,”the Associated Press reported.

COMMENTARY: Keeping an eye on the synagogue door

c. 1999 Religion News Service (Rabbi Rudin is the national interreligious affairs director of the American Jewish Committee.) UNDATED _ The upcoming Jewish High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are times of festive family gatherings, special synagogue services and personal introspection. They provide a yearly chance to review relationships with God, family and friends. However, this year, Judaism’s most sacred days will have a bittersweet edge because of the recent violent acts of domestic terrorism. Jews will joyfully follow the Rosh Hashanah tradition of dipping apples in honey as they pray for a safe and healthy new year.

HOLIDAY FEATURE: Praying for the ability to pray

c. 1999 Religion News Service UNDATED _ Michael Fischer is a 46-year-old Los Angeles resident whose yearly synagogue attendance is generally limited to a few hours on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the Jewish High Holy Days. It is not a particularly edifying experience. Fischer, the son of a Conservative rabbi, goes to synagogue “basically because I’m afraid of how I might feel if I didn’t go.” Despite his familiarity with the Hebrew liturgy, meaningful prayer is beyond him. “I don’t even try.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 1999 Religion News Service ELCA delegates vote to maintain stance on homosexuality (RNS) Delegates to the Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted to maintain the denomination’s stance forbidding the ordination of practicing homosexuals. The delegates, called voting members, adopted a resolution”to decline to propose at this assembly any change in the standards for rostered ministry related to non-celibate gay or lesbian persons.” By a 716-267 vote, they defeated an amendment that would have suspended the enforcement of ELCA policies that ban the ordination of practicing gays and lesbians and call for ordained ministers to abstain from sexual relationships with homosexuals. They also defeated, by a vote of 559-414, an amendment calling for a denominationwide consultation to propose”strategies which might allow for the ordination of non-celibate lesbian and gay persons,”the ELCA News Service reported.

COMMENTARY: The foolish Bodhisattva

c. 1999 Religion News Service (Les Kaye is the abbot of Kannon Do, the Zen Meditation Center in Mountain View, Calif., and author of “Zen at Work” (Crown, 1997). He teaches meditation in Silicon Valley.) UNDATED _ The Saturday was sunny and mild. But I was in traffic school because I did something foolish. Approaching a stop sign on a country road with no traffic in sight, failing to spot the well-hidden patrol car, I slowed but did not come to a complete stop.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 1999 Religion News Service Lutherans take up social issues (RNS) After approving closer ties with both the Episcopal and Moravian churches, voting members at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Churchwide Assembly have turned their attention to more worldly matters, including the farm crisis and women and children in poverty. The delegates, by an 833-10 vote, adopted a resolution calling on the church’s 5.2 million members to stand with farmers, their families and rural communities, including advocacy with government for policies that aid farmers hurt by the crisis, and aid to support groups that help victims gain access to social services, including mental health services.”I thought the farm crisis of the 1980s was well past,”said delegate Gary Preston from Wisconsin.”But it’s ongoing. In addition, the assembly received a report from its six-year-old Women and Children Living in Poverty project calling for the church to move beyond providing social services and to work for justice for those in poverty. Tina Dabney, the project director, said congregations in the church are providing shelters, food pantries, day care for children, adult literacy programs and job training.”But we’ve been there, we’ve done that.

NEWS FEATURE: Devotees hope for canonization for their `little Cajun saint’

c. 1999 Religion News Service RICHARD, La. _ Forty years after dying a premature death memorably sweet to the ears of Cajun Roman Catholic faith, Charlene Marie Richard again drew nearly 1,000 devotees to her country grave, many giving thanks for favors they believe a girl who died at the age of 12 has purchased for them in heaven. They include, some believe, miraculous acts of life-saving healing, such as the deliverance of 1-year-old Alyse Graham of nearby Lafayette, whose physician thinks Charlene’s intercession with God snatched the newborn from death last year. And smaller favors, too: a new job, a safe trip, an unexpected kiss of good fortune.

NEWS STORY: Lutherans approve unity pact with Episcopal Church

c. 1999 Religion News Service UNDATED _ Delegates to the Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, in a major vote of confidence for the ecumenical movement, Thursday (Aug. 19) agreed to a historic “full communion” proposal with the Episcopal Church. In a 716-317 vote, the voting members, as delegates are known, approved the Called to Common Mission proposal, slightly more than the two-thirds needed for approval. The vote reversed a decision taken by the 5.2 million-member denomination in 1997.

NEWS FEATURE: Catholic report gives managed care mixed ethical grade

c. 1999 Religion News Service UNDATED _ The weeks are running out for 8-year-old Jason Martin. He has a deadly brain tumor, and one last hope _ a new cancer-fighting drug being tested several hundred miles away. The Martins, a family of modest means, have health insurance through a managed care organization. But the regional treatment center is outside the network of providers, and the organization has refused to cover the costly experimental-drug therapy.